We sat down with Jeffrey Reamer, a master teacher at Elm City College Prep Middle to learn more about his teaching journey and why he joined AF.
Thanks for sitting down with us, Jeff! Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Philly. I went to the University of Pittsburgh and studied history and philosophy. After I graduated, I taught in San Antonio for two years with Teach For America.
When you were graduating, why did you decide to pursue a career in education?
Honestly, I never saw myself as a teacher. When I joined TFA, I saw it as a springboard into a different career. Your first two years of teaching, you’re not very good at it. But the only way schools get better is if people stay. So I continued teaching. I felt like it was my way of paying it forward.
We know you were recently named a master teacher—congratulations! Can you share a bit more about your current role at AF?
I’m an eighth grade literature teacher, athletic director, and teacher coach at Elm City Middle.
Wow! So you have just a few things on your plate. Looking back, what do you think brought you to teach at Achievement First?
I was pretty torn about leaving my school in San Antonio, but my now spouse went to Rhode Island School of Design, and my family was in Philly so I decided to make the move. There were a lot of opportunities at AF and when I got this job, I fell in love with the community, the school, and my colleagues. It takes a lot of time and effort to build trust with the community, and something that brings me joy is knowing that I’m not viewed as an outsider anymore. I’ll see former students driving down the street, and they will pull over just to say hi. I’ve reached a place where everywhere I go, I see people I know. It’s so important to have a degree of social capital with the community of families that send their kids to our school everyday and put so much trust in our schools. That sense of community is invaluable.
Definitely. Can you share a part of your teaching that’s particularly meaningful to you?
It’s great to hear how successful my students are in classes when they go on to high school. It makes me feel like the work I do is really valuable. Some students will come back and visit from college–they usually say that college work is easier than they thought it was going to be! I recently heard a student talk about how eighth grade will push you to be better, better than you think you can be because their teachers know you can do better.
That makes a lot of sense. You must be so proud! Thanks and congrats again, Jeff!